Yesterday was World Day for the End of Fishing, a new initiative that asks for the abolition of fishing and fish farming.
The motivation behind this day, which is organized by the same groups who launched the World Day for the End of Speciesism in 2015, is the absolute indifference to the fate of fishes by the general public.
This day is an exception to the rule which, to a large extent, is a disregard of fishes’ suffering by the AR community. Most campaigns, organizations and activists rarely mention fishes and other aquatic animals despite that they are the vast majority of the victims of animal exploitation.
The marine animals industry is by far the largest exploitation industry in the world. Thousands of billions of individuals are caught in the world’s oceans, seas and lakes. Hundreds of billions of them are caught to feed the hundreds of billions of farmed fishes and crustaceans. Additional billions of individuals are caught unintentionally as bycatch.
But we don’t accuse activist of internalizing a speciesist view which prioritizes the suffering of land animals over that of marine animals. We are sure that the downplay of fishes’ suffering is mostly a tactical move, resulting from activists’ despair of humans’ apathy. Humans are much less likely to relate to fishes than to other industrially exploited animals, and especially mammals. That’s why, more than any other systematically exploited species, fishes are mentioned in many cases as part of a more ecological rhetoric of “empty oceans”, and not as sentient individuals.
The use of egocentric and anthropocentric arguments in vegan advocacy is notoriously popular in the Animal Liberation movement (an issue that should be and is broadly discussed separately). In the case of advocacy for fishes, it is not by chance that egocentric and anthropocentric reasons (mostly in disguise of ecological ones) take centre stage. Continue reading